At a time when data breaches and cyber attacks are as common as traffic jams, more and more cybersecurity firms are emerging from the woodwork. Some accelerate to market at break-neck speed, only to fade along the way. Others reach a plateau and despite all efforts never reach full maturity. So when it comes to identifying a cyber security partner that’s going to stick around, what should you look for? Is speed or endurance the way to go? The answer might surprise you.
In Peter Cohan’s recent Forbes article, he identifies two types of entrepreneurs: sprinters and marathoners. Describing Check Point CEO and founder Gil Shwed in the context of the two categories, Cohan says, “Shwed is not like many entrepreneurs — I call them sprinters … who start a company, grow it fast, and sell it to someone else. While Shwed is what I call a marathoner — he started from an idea and is continuing to build his company….”
Consider this: Each year, marathon records are bested. You can’t win a marathon if you don’t have the speed to outpace the competition.
In 1993, Shwed worked with colleagues from the Israel Defense Force and came up with the first Firewall—the earliest major element developed for network security to protect networks from cyberattackers. Three years later, he took the company public.
Whether you’re a sprinter or a marathoner, satisfaction is always about better-faster. Such is the case with Shwed, who like all CEOs, always wants to see faster growth. But not at the expense of a quality vision. For Shwed, the answer lies in a combination of elements – geographies, technologies, and new markets that make sense for the business–and the customer.
Contrast this approach against the many other companies that might jump on whatever is next and new as their mainstay solution—as some are doing with artificial intelligence (AI). While AI holds great promise, it has become apparent in recent news stories that it’s not quite ready for primetime—at least as a primary means of security and intelligence. For instance, as The Guardian and others reported last month, MIT researchers were able to trick AI into identifying a 3D-printed turtle as a rifle by adding visual noise to confuse the AI.
If technologies are out there based on their promise versus their delivery, they’re not doing customers any favors. And in fact, can create their own sets of problems. Just as a sprinters might run out of steam before they can reach the finish line.
So what’s the answer to whether the hare or tortoise is better? Neither and both. It takes a long view with agility and surefootedness.